It was just a chain. Stretched across a roadway to keep autos out. About a foot from the ground. "Piece of cake," I thought as I noticed it in my path during a morning run. A simple hop over without breaking stride. So I hopped...
...about 11 1/2 inches...
...and went down hard. Fear and humiliation are what I felt on the way down. Then painful abrasions.
I have a dream that recurs occasionally. In it I'm falling and have that feeling that comes from having nothing to hold on to. The dream may be the result of the time I fell off a horse as a kid. Or the time I took a nasty tumble off a bike. Or the time in an Army leadership training class when I had just come through a pool of water and scaled a wall. I reached for a horizontal bar as I went over the top and lost my grip because of my wet hands. I fell head first about six feet.
I combine all those experiences with my revelation yesterday about fearing being lost or left. I think the root of them all is one word...helplessness. That bit of self-understanding leads me to a painful memory.
My dad was the kind of man who faced circumstances head-on. If something broke, he was usually able to fix it. He built the house I grew up it -- much of it by himself. We were once on a family outing in dad and mom's van. A wheel bearing went out in a remote, mountainous area. He stopped in a tiny village and took apart the wheel. We found one of the very few residents of the place and they had some Crisco shortening. Dad cleaned and packed the bearing with it and drove about 200 miles home that way.
But he faced some things he couldn't fix. He couldn't fix it when my 20-year-old sister died of a heart infection. And he couldn't fix his inoperable cancer.
During our last fishing trip with him, dad, my brother and I were walking back to our camp area from the lakeshore. Here we were, his two sons, one on each side of him.
We knew his pain was growing less manageable. He looked at us and said, "Boys, I want you to pray for me." "Sure, dad," we both replied. He went on, choked by emotion. "I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be helpless."
Dad died about ten months later. We were all amazed at how quickly he went, once he couldn't take care of himself.
Some of you responded yesterday. Now that I have dug a little deeper, do you have greater insight into your fears. If so, please comment. If you haven't shared some of those fears with us, we would love to hear from you today.